UBS wealth-management split gives CEO race two front-runners



UBS has appointed Iqbal Khan, the bank’s head of wealth management, as president of the Swiss lender’s Asia-Pacific region and Rob Karofsky, its investment-banking chief, as head of the Americas, the company announced Thursday. Khan and Karofsky will co-lead UBS’s wealth management unit, the bank said.

The move effectively sets Khan and Karofsky up as front-runners to succeed Sergio Ermotti as CEO when he chooses to retire, Andreas Venditti, an analyst at Vontobel, wrote in a note seen Thursday by Bloomberg.

UBS dismissed the idea that Ermotti’s successor would be an external candidate, the Financial Times reported Monday. The bank plans instead to choose from a shortlist of three internal candidates who could be announced as early as at next year’s annual meeting, people familiar with the matter told the publication. Ermotti has said he plans to step down in 2027 at the latest.

Khan will replace Edmund Koh atop Asia, UBS said. Koh will stay with the bank, though, as regional chair of Asia-Pacific after Khan assumes responsibility Sept. 1.

“[Khan] has a huge job ahead of him, and there is no guarantee he will succeed,” Johann Scholtz, a banking analyst at Morningstar, told the Financial Times in March. “If he can deliver, it will be a massive feather in his cap.”

Karofsky’s shift away from the investment bank means George Athanasopoulos and Marco Valla will become co-presidents of that unit, UBS announced Thursday.

Karofsky’s ascent in the Americas, meanwhile, means Naureen Hassan, UBS’s regional president there, will step down effective July 1. Hassan joined the bank from the New York Fed in 2022.

Perhaps the best-known executive to leave UBS amid Thursday’s shuffle is Ulrich Körner, the last independent CEO of Credit Suisse. Körner will step down from UBS’s board at the end of June, after the integration of Credit Suisse is complete, and retire later this year. His upcoming departure had been teased this month in the Financial Times.

Another departure is one that’s a second time coming. UBS tapped Damian Vogel as its next chief risk officer. Vogel will replace Christian Bluhm, who left the bank in 2022 to pursue a photography career — only to return six months later, in the aftermath of the UBS-Credit Suisse merger announcement.

The UBS-Credit Suisse transaction is set to close Friday, the bank said, and the entities will form a single intermediate holding company in the U.S. next month.

“The appointments to the Group Executive Board we are announcing today will allow us to continue to progress on our integration journey and realize the expected synergies and efficiencies, while putting even more emphasis on our long-term priorities and growth prospects, particularly in the Americas and Asia-Pacific,” Ermotti said in a statement Thursday.

While Khan and Karofsky could presumably be two of the three shortlisted CEO candidates, the third remains somewhat of a mystery. Analysts have suggested Beatriz Martin Jimenez, head of UBS’s non-core and legacy unit, and Sabine Keller-Busse, head of UBS’s Swiss business, may also be in the running for the bank’s top spot.



Related Content

Edmund Shing, PhD

Global Chief Investment Officer
BNP Paribas Wealth Management

Edmund has over 29 years of experience in financial markets in a wide variety of positions, ranging from proprietary trading to portfolio manager in a number of financial institutions in London and Paris.  He previously held the role of Global Head of Equity and Derivative Strategy at BNP Paribas in London from 2015 to 2020, and has been Chief Investment Officer at BNP Paribas Wealth Management since November 2020.

Edmund is responsible for piloting our investment strategy and will continues to rollout out recommendations and themes with actionable advice that brings our expertise to our clients and support to our client-facing teams.  In this time of change, his expertise in following and anticipating markets is a true value added for both our customers and those at Wealth Management who serve them.

Edmund has a PhD in Cognitive and Computing Science from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, and has done advanced studies in Knowledge-Based Systems and in Experimental Psychology.  He is an EFFAS-certified financial analyst. He has also authored the book “The Idle Investor” published by Harriman House in 2015, proposing 3 simple investment strategies that take only a few minutes to execute per month.

Media Kit

    Data Protection

    The information you provide will be held on our database and may be used to keep you informed of our and our associate companies’ products and for selected third party mailings. Please tick the box if you would prefer not to be contacted for these purposes:

    The Digital Banker Summit

    Moving on from FTX: is 2023 the year of CBDCs?

    Indonesia, Jakarta

    Thailand, Bangkok

    Philippines, Manila

    Contact Us

      Data Protection

      The information you provide will be held on our database and may be used to keep you informed of our and our associate companies’ products and for selected third party mailings. Please tick the box if you would prefer not to be contacted for these purposes:

      Request Nomination Pack

      Error: Contact form not found.

      The world’s preeminent Private Banks and Wealth Managers are demonstrating a committed drive in innovation, advisory, new products and services to meet the sophisticated needs of their clients.

      Amid economic activity revival on the back of the Covid-19 vaccine program, organisations moving from business continuity plans to stable working environments, together with the slightest improvement in unemployment numbers, forced the world to adjust to new realities. Coming to terms with the “new normal”, global investors are now on the look-out for attractive and stable investment opportunities.

      Needs of Private Wealth customers and families worldwide have drastically changed due to the pandemic and banks have had to accelerate efforts to deploy a multi-channel service strategy and safeguard clients’ businesses and wealth against negative impacts of economic uncertainly.

      The Global Private Banking Innovation Awards will recognise the world’s best private banks, wealth managers and asset managers that are championing innovation across advisory, service, products, customer experience and more.

      Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. 

      Request Nomination Pack

      Error: Contact form not found.